When I began watching this film I was sure I was in for a farce of the whole serious hockey film thing. While there are plenty of moments of that there was a whole unexpected side to Michael Dowse’s (Fubar, It’s All Gone Pete Tong) Goon. Just when you think they are going to go totally overboard with the humour it stops and becomes a little bit heavy. Betraying the fact that there is a level of seriousness deep within.
Being that he is part of a very brainy family, brawny Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott – American Pie, Role Models) is the black sheep of the family. All Doug is really good at is beating up people. Hence his job as a bouncer. His career path is about to change, though.
One night while on the job Doug hears a visiting hockey player make a gay slur. As he has a gay brother Doug takes offence and beats the hockey player to a pulp. Doug is recruited to be the enforcer on a local semi-pro hockey team. There is a slight setback as Doug can barely skate, but when it comes to goons that is not really a prerequisite that is high on the list. He does so well that he is called up to the Halifax Highlanders in order to protect their star player, Xavier Laflamme (Marc-André Grondin – L’Affaire Dumont, C.R.A.Z.Y.). Laflamme has previously been beaten up by another goon, Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Live Shreiber – Salt, Defiance), and lives in fear of him.
If I were to bottom line Goon I would have to say that it is not what you go in expecting. This is a film about a hockey goon. A guy on skates who beats up other guys on skates. That is basically what he is paid for. The goon in hockey is like a bodyguard protecting the skilled players. So you know that there are going to be fights. There are plenty in Goon and as you can expect some of the fights are quite brutal. Even in those scenes Dowse takes the films in directions you wouldn’t expect. Surprisingly (to me, at least) the fight scenes are quite graceful…if you can even say that about a hockey fight scene. For example, there is a scene during a fight in which a tooth goes flying out of a guy’s mouth and onto the ice. That should be a gross and funny scene, but because of the way Dowse filmed it (slow motion accompanied by opera music) the airborne tooth almost becomes a thing of beauty. Yes, there is blood and some gore, but it is still well done.
Second surprise was that the lead character of Doug Glatt is not just a ruffian. Rather he is a guy who does something well, but it doesn’t make him happy to do it. Doug is happy to be on the minor league team though realizing that the only reason he is there is to be a fighter does not make him happy. A linked surprise is what a good job Seann William Scott does in the role. His Doug is a sweet and a little slow guy not the sex-obsessed idiot that Scott’s famous Stifler from the American Pie film series was. Almost everything Doug says is wrong, but the fact that his heart is in the right place you end up forgiving him. Scott shows that he is not one dimensional and do something that requires a little more than pure crass comedy. As Doug it is impossible not to like Sean William Scott.